Monday, October 29, 2007

A bunch of grading

This morning I took my brother to LAX at four o'clock. Our dad was working on the siding of their new house last week and went down with the ladder. When he landed his elbow was wrenched with the weight of his fall and tore his rotator cuff. Because of that, and because they're hoping to get the house done by Thanksgiving time, they bought Stephen a ticket and he flew up there today. He'll be there for about a month. After I dropped him off I went to the school, but since I didn't feel very well and had a ton of stuff I needed to get done, I set my room up for the day and called in for a sub. So far today I've finished a lot of what I needed to do, but not all of it. Hopefully in the next hour I can get more done while watching football before Chuck comes on.

I was really sad to see my brother go this morning, for these reasons:
  1. Even though he isn't around that much down here, what with not having a job yet to solidify his schedule and his girlfriend and best friends living a decent distance away from us, I'm still going to miss him while he's completelygone for a while.

  2. I envy him for getting to go back up to Oregon, even if it is to work on the house.

  3. I might have been a little sad just because it was so early in the morning.

Tomorrow is opening day in the NBA, and I am really excited about the Blazers-Spurs game. I don't want to let myself get too excited, but I do think that a lot of people will be surprised by the Blazers this year. I can't wait for that.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


Once again, I don't think that preseason really means much. Tonight Portland played a bad team that didn't have it's best – or at least, most hyped – player. But I still take several things from the game, judging by the box score and the play-by-play.
  1. LaMarcus is who we thought he was. This kid is a stud. 31 points, 13 rebounds, 3 assists, with only one turnover and one foul. He did that on 12-19 shooting from the field, and 7-9 shooting from the line. It doesn't matter that he did it against a terrible team in the preseason, he's been doing it for a while. He's the real deal.

  2. Brandon Roy is still rusty, missing half of his free throws. But he showed all of the things that make me compare his intensity and clutch-ness to his airness. This is what Roy did in the last six minutes:

    1. He made an 8-foot jumper to get the game within four at 92-88.
    2. Then he made a layup to put it at 92-90.
    3. Then he made a layup after a Sonics bucket to put the score at 94-92. After another made shot by Seattle, he hit a 12 footer to make it 96-94.
    4. After the Sonics got one free throw, he made two clutch free throws to bring Portland within one at 97-96.
    5. Then he hit an open Martell Webster to get the assist and tie the game after another Seattle score. That tied the game, and after that happened the Blazers never trailed again.
    6. He got another assist by giving the ball to Aldridge for a dunk, putting Portland ahead 103-101.
    7. He then missed the second of two free throws, missed the shot after Aldridge passed him the ball, rebounded his own miss, and drew another foul. He missed the first one, but made the second. Even when he wasn't clutch, he was still making clutch plays.
    8. He then missed an 11-footer that would have put Portland up by four, got his own rebound, and then passed it out to Webster for another assist as Webster drilled another three.
    9. He then made another layup to keep Portland's lead 110-105. The last point was made by Steve Blake when he made only one free throw.

    I love Brandon Roy.

  3. Martell Webster is still bringing it. He had 19 points, once again shooting over 50% from the field and from downtown, hitting three of five. He only got two rebounds, which is disappointing, but he did have three steals. I like him as the starter at SF this year.

  4. Travis Outlaw did exactly what I want him to do off the bench. He played 25 minutes, had 13 points on only nine shots (which is a much better number than what he usually puts up). He had five rebounds, two steals, two blocks, and no turnovers. If these two guys can man the starter and sixth man roles like this during the season, the team looks good.

  5. The worst note from the game is that only one point guard seemed to do well in the game. That one? Sergio Rodriguez. He had five points on two of four shooting (1-1 from three), three rebounds, two assists, and no turnovers. He did that in only twelve minutes. It's still disappointing that JJ and Steve Blake were less than stellar, but I love Sergio and I'm happy he did well.
Again, I know that this was only preseason. It's still nice to see my guys doing this well, though.

(The title of this post was one I came up with before we won the draft lottery, as I was considering the options that weren't Oden or Durant. De-Oderant. I didn't think I would get to use the term again once we won the draft lottery. Too bad I was able to use it because neither of them played in this preseason game, but I'm glad I got to use it anyway.)

Monday, October 22, 2007

With guns put back away...

Today I had a meeting with the math coach and the principal to talk about my professional development goals for the year. It was a really good chance to tell them how I was feeling. Of course, in the midst of that I found out that the gate to the fields would have gotten me into my room after all, so that I could have gotten all that work done on Saturday morning. Yeah, I wasn't too happy to find that out. Even though that's true, the weekend was still really nice, mainly because I didn't feel guilt about not doing any work over the weekend, since I thought it wasn't my fault.
I've never been more excited for college football than for the NFL. Ever. Not even during seasons when the Ducks were okay and the Seahawks were terrible. But this year, with the combination of Oregon being amazing and Seattle being not-so-amazing and the absolute craziness of the college season, I've found myself much more interested in the college game. It could have a little to do with how poorly my three fantasy teams are performing as well, but I think the competitiveness in college this year has more to do with it. Oh yeah, and cheering for the best offense in the country. I mean, Oregon rushed for 465 rushing yards and 39 first downs against the Huskies in Seattle on Saturday. They ran the ball 62 times, and 25 of those runs were for first downs. They attempted 30 passes, and completed 14 of those for first downs. They averaged 7.5 yards per rush as a team. Even though Washington is bad, that's just amazing. It reminds me of what the Seahawks did in 2005 when the offensive line made defenses give them the entire field. And that's what's been said about Oregon's performance: the line was unstoppable, which means that it doesn't matter what guy is running behind them. Of course, it doesn't hurt to have one of the best running backs in the country and a sneaky Heisman candidate at quarterback behind them. In fact, if Dixon had four more yards passing, one more yard rushing, and not thrown a Hail Mary interception at the end of the first half, he's looking at a game with 200 yards passing, 100 yards rushing, a better than 60% completion rate, and two total touchdowns – one in the air and one on the ground. Those are great numbers. We have USC and ASU at home in the next two weeks, and if we can keep the offense rolling and get the defense back to where it had been the last few weeks, we should be looking at the final three weeks beginning to think about BCS championship plans. Crazy. Oh yeah, and the Oregon basketball team should be coming back stronger this year than they were last year. It's a good time to be a Duck.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

After four pre-season games

As most everyone says, the pre-season means very little. Very little. Of course, that doesn't mean I won't continue to use it to build my ridiculous dreams of what the Blazers might be able to do this season. As much as the pre-season doesn't mean much, there are still quite a few signs of great improvement for the upcoming season.
  1. In four games Martell Webster is averaging 19 ppg, 4.25 rpg, 1.5 apg, 1 spg, 0 bpg, and 1 topg in 32.5 mpg. Those are pretty good numbers, especially because one of the knocks on his game is that he's had a hard time just getting into the flow of the game. A lot of the comments abut his performances have said that he's been doing a great job of getting involved whether he has the ball or not.

  2. In four games Travis Outlaw is averaging 13.25 ppg, 5.25 rpg, 1.25 apg, 1 spg, 1 bpg, and 1 topg in 29.25 mpg. Those numbers aren't too bad either.

  3. Those last two points lead to this one: the SF battle, which was supposed to be a three man battle that many thought would produce no one really good, has turned out to be the best for both young guys. If we can get production even close to that from these two guys in the regular season, things will be fantastic. I mean, between the two, if I adjust for the rigors of the regular season, I suspect that the SF position could give us these numbers: 28 ppg, 8 rpg, 2 apg, 1.5 spg, 0.8 bpg, 2.5 topg. That's pretty good production from our small forward position, and that's with me adjusting things for declining production. But if things work out the way they should, Roy and Aldridge will actually open the offense up so that the small forward can contribute even more in the offense. So that's encouraging.

  4. The PG battle has also been more than healthy. In four games Jarrett Jack is averaging 10.25 ppg, 1.25 rpg, 4.25 apg, 0.5 spg, and 2.25 topg in 25.25 mpg during four games. In three games Steve Blake is averaging 7.67 ppg, 3.67 rpg, 3.67 apg, 0.33 spg, and 2.67 topg in 23.67 mpg. In four games Sergio Rodriguez is averaging 4.5 ppg, 1.5 rpg, 4.75 apg, 1.25 spg, and 2 topg in 14.5 mpg. And in four games Taurean Green is averaging 7.75 ppg, 1.75 rpg, 2.5 apg, 0.25 spg, and 1.5 topg in 16 mpg. I didn't factor the field goal percentages into those stats, but regardless, that's a pretty good point guard battle and line up. Also, as Dave at Blazer's Edge pointed out, there are really two sets of point guards there: the duo of "true" point guards, Blake and Rodriguez, and the duo of "shooting" point guards, Jack and Green.

  5. The two biggest question marks before Oden went down were PG and SF. Those two battles are going really well. But when the number one had surgery, the bigger question became center. Well, Joel Przybilla seems to be filling that nicely. His numbers, in four games, is averaging 2 ppg, 9.75 rpg, 1 bpg, 2 topg, and 3.25 fouls per game in 22.5 mpg. It would be nice if he were contributing more offense, but that's not too bad. His rebounds are fantastic. His blocks will improve with more minutes, his turnover numbers are pretty good, and his foul numbers are also better than they have been. Channing hasn't done too much to make the center situation seem great, but it's encouraging to see how well Przybilla is doing.
All of those things are great signs to me that the regular season will be better than most people think, especially if LaMarcus continues to do a great job and Roy gets back to form when the season starts. The offense has been firing on all cylinders, something no one really expected from a more up-tempo style with a core of young players. Anyway, that is one of the things keeping me going through the tough school year. Nine dears until the regular season starts.

With guns drawn

That's how the police would have approached me, apparently, had I tried to get into school this morning. The title of this post, I mean. That's what my colleague Mariano told me as I was talking with him in front of the school. I asked a secretary as I was leaving yesterday if I could get in this morning, and she said it would be open from eight until noon. Wrong. After she confirmed that, I left a bunch of things in my classroom that I was going to get done today. But instead they're just going to sit there until Monday morning, which is not good. That means I need to try to get to school even earlier on Monday than I normally would. Boo to that. So instead I took care of some car things this morning, specifically a long-overdue oil change. Now I'm catching up with a TV show that I think I'll like, Dirty Sexy Money. I've only seen part of the premiere, but it sounds pretty good.

Speaking of pretty good, last night I went to see The Darjeeling Limited with my roommate Eric and our friend Beau. A review of it in The District – Long Beach's weekly art/entertainment magazine – thought that it fell apart when the brothers got off the train. I disagree with that strongly. Once again it seemed to me that Wes Anderson does his best work when he is focusing on the most painful of human experiences. The rest of the time the movie was funny, but when the brothers were really confronted with tragedy and forced to look at their own lives and actions the movie got that much better. All the acting was really good, but I was especially pleased with Owen Wilson and Adrian Brody. Wilson was better than normal, and I think Brody showed me that he really is that good. I wasn't as happy when I walked out as I was at the end of The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, I didn't think the whole movie was as insightful as The Royal Tenenbaums, probably my favorite Anderson movie, and I didn't think it was as funny as Rushmore or Bottle Rocket. But it might have done the job of combining those things that a fifth movie from an idiosyncratic director should.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Isn't stress fun?

Monthly. That is now the goal for the updates on this blog, although it will probably be a little better since the NBA season is nearly here. I listened to part of the pre-season game last night between the Blazers and Clippers. It was great to see the final lines, and even fun to hear what was happening for a while. I really don't think the game means much, but it was still nice. There are lots of websites with good coverage of the game, and I don't have the energy to try to do any better. Dave at Blazer's Edge has done a great job of listing these articles, so check that out if you want to read the good coverage. The important little comment I have is that we did a good job of punishing a team missing most of their best players, but we did so while missing our best player and another that most of us think will be one of our best players, if he isn't already. So that's important.

School is rough. I'm still trying to figure out how to be a "disciplinarian," which is getting in the way of trying to figure out how to be a better teacher. The most pressing issues are probably related to making sure that my students understand what's going on despite difficulties with English, since that seems to be one of the main problems. The other problem that consumes me, but that I haven't done much about yet, is still figuring out how to make my lessons much more engaging so that the students who are disruptive will find less reason to act that way. I'm trying a lesson tomorrow that uses ads to teach logic and reasoning. We'll see how that goes. I didn't go today because of feeling pretty bad and needing to catch up with stuff. That's the second straight Thursday I've missed at school, and I don't like that one bit. Hopefully my body starts healing soon, and then I won't feel the need to miss school.
I went in to the doctor last week to get the tingling checked out, and ended up with several x-rays and two different MRIs. Then they called me on Saturday and had me come back in on Monday to take a few more pictures. Since then I haven't heard anything though, so I'm not sure what's going on with my body still. I do need to schedule my physical therapy, which the doctor prescribed before the extra shots were taken on Monday. So that's what's going on right now. More to come in a month probably.